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Dr Ann Skelton awarded international ambassadorship of the British Society of Criminology

Dr Ann Skelton, Director of University of Pretoria's Centre for Child Law, has been appointed an International Ambassador of The British Society of Criminology (BSC).

The BSC’s role is to maintain close links with the international criminological community and to spread the work of the society and its members globally.

International ambassadors assist in fostering relationships with other organisations and can be a first port of call for those studying or conducting research in their locale. The society has been in existence for over 50 years and has a wide-ranging global membership.

“I am delighted to have been invited to be an International Ambassador for the BSC and welcome the opportunity to share experiences."

"My doctorate focused on Restorative Justice in relation to child offenders. Although my work encompasses a wide range of child rights issues, several of my areas of interest fall within the field of criminology. The first of these is the promotion of child justice reform, particularly in other developing countries – I led the committee that drafted the 2008 South African Child Justice Act, which has become a popular model of reform in other African countries and the Caribbean."

Dr Skelton holds an LLD (Doctor of Law) from the University of Pretoria and has worked as a human rights lawyer for 18 years. Since 1992, she has specialised in children’s rights and has worked in a co-operative relationship with a number of government departments at the highest level in order to enhance the prospects for effective new systems for children.

In 1996, she was appointed by the Minister of Justice to lead the Juvenile Justice Project Committee of the South African Law Commission. From October 1999 to November 2004, she served as national co-ordinator of the Child Justice Project, a technical assistance project of the government of South Africa, the main objective of which was to assist government with planning for the implementation of the Child Justice Bill.

Dr Skelton, who has published extensively in the areas of juvenile law and restorative justice, was awarded a Juvenile Justice Without Borders prize by the International Juvenile Justice Observancy in 2016, in recognition of her 20 years' work in reducing the number of children in prison in South Africa.

In recent years, she has been working on the harsh effect of new sexual offence laws on adolescents, which leads to consensual teen sex being criminalised, ages of consent being raised, the inclusion of young sex offenders on sex offenders’ registers and children being charged with possession of pornography for taking naked pictures of themselves on their cell phones.

The Centre for Child Law, which was established in 1998, is a law clinic that takes strategic cases to court to challenge such laws, as well as challenging harsh sentencing of child offenders and the effects of imprisonment of primary caregivers on their children.

“I feel very enthusiastic about the use of strategic litigation. I have argued several such cases in the South African Constitutional Court and I would like to see more litigation of this nature happening on the African continent and elsewhere,” she says.

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